Opt­ing for a healthy op­tion

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - TASTE - Graeme Phillips

POLLEN TEA ROOM

56 Ham­p­den Rd, Bat­tery Point. Fri­day, Mon­day and Tues­day, 7am- 4pm; week­ends 8am- 4pm. BYO. 6224 8000

ROOM, sin­gu­lar, is the op­er­a­tive word. And a very small cot­tage room at that, at this time of the year nicely warmed by a wood fire with just one com­mu­nal ta­ble, an­other for two in the cor­ner, a win­dow bench with stools, a gal­ley- like kitchen/ cof­fee/ servery and al­fresco ta­bles out the back for sum­mer.

The style of food is an­nounced on a spe­cials black­board headed GF, SF, DF, VG and RAW, which, for me, spelled: “Graeme, what are you do­ing here?”

But it was dead­line time and, well, I’m glad I stayed. Not quite an om­ni­vore’s epiphany but a most en­joy­able ex­pe­ri­ence for some­one like me nonethe­less.

Shae McCrickard and Matthew Bo­takis opened Pollen about two years ago, serv­ing the sort of clean food they like to eat.

Since a break­fast of dev­illed kid­neys wasn’t on of­fer, I chose chia seed pud­ding for which the small black chia seeds were soaked for a few hours in house- made cashew milk un­til they swelled to be­come pud­ding- like, then served topped with shred­ded co­conut, wal­nuts, as­sorted seeds and fresh straw­ber­ries driz­zled with real maple syrup.

Chia, Matt said, was one of the Aztecs’ su­per­foods which, like quinoa, was her­alded once again as a mod­ern su­per­food, both com­ing to us from Cen­tral and South Amer­ica as our pota­toes, toma­toes, corn, choco­late and many other foods did cen­turies ago.

As Matt ex­plained – and as no doubt many read­ers al­ready know – “su­per­foods” are those that con­tain ex­cep­tion­ally high con­cen­tra­tions of min­eral and nu­tri­tional good­ness.

“Grow­ing up in Mel­bourne, I was liv­ing on the usual deep- fried crap most young people eat,” Matt said.

“Un­til Shae in­tro­duced me to the food at a lit­tle ve­gan cafe she used to deliver flow­ers to.

“The ef­fect of the change on our health, en­ergy lev­els and lives was pro­found.”

Ho­bart- born Shae, a for­mer dancer who is study­ing holis­tic nu­tri­tion with the aim of be­com­ing a health coach, added: “So I asked the cafe if I could have a job in their kitchen. And af­ter a lot of re­search, here we are, our first ven­ture.”

I was on more fa­mil­iar ground with the dishes that fol­lowed. My wife said her house­made or­ganic bircher with yo­ghurt, cin­na­mon, honey, fruit and a jug of al­mond milk on the side was “de­li­cious”. “The best I’ve ever eaten,” she added. For me, the cayenne chilli beans with a baked egg were fine, the chilli milder than the seven- out- of- 10 Matt had ad­vised.

How­ever, I felt the smashed av­o­cado, feta and co­rian­der on sour­dough would have ben­e­fited from more av­o­cado, less of the feta’s dry­ing acid­ity and a lot more fresh co­rian­der, mint, pea ten­drils or sim­i­lar to lift it.

Then came a slice of an un­cooked ca­cao and av­o­cado tart on a base of crushed, de­hy­drated hazel­nuts – re­cy­cled from mak­ing their hazel­nut milk – sweet­ened with rice malt syrup.

I’m not sure quite how it held to­gether but it was beau­ti­fully flavoured and tex­tured.

Break­fast had started with a fash­ion­able jar – not a glass – of cold- pressed beet­root, gin­ger and ap­ple juice, and fin­ished with spiced chai, a won­der­fully rich hot choco­late and an ex­cel­lent lo­cally roasted, sin­gle- ori­gin cof­fee.

Al­ter­na­tively, I could have cho­sen non­al­co­holic kom­bucha to start or a tea from the ar­ray of 22 green, white, black, spiced, or­ganic and botan­i­cal teas from In­dia, China, Ja­pan and South Africa, the largest and most di­verse se­lec­tion of leaves I’ve seen on of­fer in a restau­rant since the days of Chado – The Way of Tea, on El­iz­a­beth St.

Al­to­gether, it was an in­ter­est­ing, in­struc­tive and en­joy­ably healthy start to my day. And I ad­mire the con­sis­tency of their phi­los­o­phy as well as the fact that, rather than pros­e­lytis­ing, they’re sim­ply do­ing what they be­lieve in, do­ing it very well and, in do­ing so, pro­vid­ing Ho­bart with some­thing unique.

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